Will your blog or website pass the Google mobile-friendly test?
In the past few years, mobile search traffic to my websites and blogs has increased from a little over 20% to well above 60%.
This does not include tablet traffic, which remains steady at a little under 10%.
These statistics from Mobile Marketing Statistics show details of the trend, and how desktop computer traffic is now running second.
A lot, in fact.
Many authors are now used to the idea of blogging to promote their books.
It means writing informative and entertaining blog articles and including book promotion links in the sidebar of their blogs.
This is all well and good for the desktop version, but for mobile users and small screens, it’s a loser. It’s a web design disaster, in fact.
Why? Because all the blog sidebars that are visible for desktop users, disappear for mobile websites.
Not entirely disappear, but they do get shoved to the bottom of what a mobile user sees when they view a website.
What you include in sidebars is missed or ignored unless users scroll down to the bottom of the page.
This is also a big problem for authors with self-hosted blogs that carry Google Adsense advertising in their sidebars.
Again, this advertising will be lost to mobile device users, because it will be moved to the bottom of the page after all the comments, share buttons, and related posts.
What this change in technology and user behavior means is that blog and website owners will need to adapt and change their sites.
You need to make sure that what is essential is included within the body of each of your posts. And not in a sidebar, which your mobile audience is unlikely to see.
Responsive web design is now the standard for most blogging platforms to enhance mobile-friendliness and reduce loading times.
However, while responsive sites do make a website mobile-friendly, it has a lot of trade-offs.
For my site, this is the view desktop readers will see. Notice that the sidebar contains popular and recent posts and comments.
But for my visitors using a mobile device, this is what they see when they view my mobile site.
There is no sidebar for mobile users, so they will not see my recent articles and comments widget.
This, of course, creates a problem and requires a total rethink about how you can best utilize a mobile-friendly website.
If more than 60% of visitors are not seeing what you would like them to see, it means redesigning your website layout.
Making a few changes
The easiest way around this problem is to move everything vital that you want a reader to see into the body of a blog post or article.
Over half of your visitors will not see your Amazon, iBooks, or Goodreads widgets.
Of course, you will find that it is not very practical to include your promotional widgets in the body of your articles.
So the best way to achieve the same result is to use an image link as I have done on the left. Or you can create inline links such as this. You can view my book Louis on Amazon.
Of course, you don’t need to click on my example links above to know that they work.
But they do show how easy it is to include links in the body of articles, instead of using sidebars for promotion and advertising.
Creating a mobile-friendly site
The very first step is to ensure that you are using a blog theme that uses responsive website design.
This type of theme automatically produces a responsive web design that will suit the screen size of the device for a range of mobile devices.
You don’t need a web developer to do this. All you need to do is make sure the theme you use will give a good mobile experience for your site visitors.
If you are using a free blogging platform like Blogger, Tumblr, Wix, or WordPress.com, your blog will responsive by default.
But you will need to move some of the elements in your blog to give a better user experience for phone users.
In the two images above, you will notice that the one ad I have on the page is not in the sidebar.
If you have Adsense ads or ads for your books in your sidebar, a better place to put them is in the header. Then both mobile and desktop users will see your ad.
You can also use Adsense native in-article responsive ads. These appear between paragraphs in your article.
If you have social media icons, check to see if you can place them in your header.
Another tip is to use a related posts widget at the end of your blog posts. Mobile users will see this before the comments, so it will help keep users on your site for a little longer.
Another check to do is to make sure that your site can pass a search engine mobile-friendliness test.
You can find a mobile test tool on Google or Bing Webmaster tools.
Site speed is now such an important factor in search results because all search engines check how fast a page loads for users.
So whether you are using your blog or website for book promotion or advertising revenue, make sure you consider mobile device users now. Ensure that you redesign your sites so that visitors see what you want them to see, and can click where you want them to click.
And yes. Nothing stays the same when it comes to all things Internet and website development.
Change is the only constant.